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Annual Powwow Draws Hundreds for Dancing, Games


Tribal members from throughout Indian country traveled to the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Reservation in Towoac the third weekend in August for the tribe's annual powwow celebration. Hosted by the Ute Mountain Casino Hotel, the event offered more than $50,000 in prizes for dancing, drumming, and hand games. Local News Network was there to capture the sights and sounds of the colorful event. This story is sponsored by Ute Mountain Casino Hotel and TruWest Auto


You're watching the "Local News Network" brought to you by Ute Mountain Casino Hotel and TruWest Auto. I'm Wendy Graham Settle. The announcer couldn't have been more spot on when he introduced the grand entry for Saturday's powwow at the Ute Mountain Ute Indian tribes headquarters in Towaok as one of the most colorful spectacles on earth. Hosted annually by the tribe's Ute Mountain Casino Hotel, this year's two-day event in August featured more than $41,000 in prize money for dancers, drummers, and singers. And $10,000 for winners of the annual hand-game competition. Hundreds of tribal members from throughout Indian country attended the event. One of the keystone events scheduled this year in celebration of the casino's 30th anniversary. Tribal elders, to little kids, dressed in regalia entered the powwow arena, demonstrating traditional Intertribal dancing, or showing off their moves for fancy dancing, or jingle dress dancing. Meanwhile, the Indian village to the south of the casino, 22 teams were singing and teasing each other during the hand-game competition in an effort to win a piece of the $10,000 purse. hand-games predate recorded history, and tribal elder, Betty Howe says she recalls her grandparents and great grandparents playing the game at the local trading post. It's a relatively simple guessing game.

These are called bones, so the object of the game is to get all the 10 game sticks. Each team gets five, and they get a extra at the end. Yeah, that's called the kid stick. And the object is to get all the sticks.

Howe says the game is popular throughout Indian country. And powwows usually include a tournament. Two team members on one team, hide the bones in their hands while the guesser are on the opposite team, guesses which hand holds the blank bone. If the guessing team guesses correctly, they get the hiding teams stick, and just like poker, it involves paying attention and knowing your opponent. The singing serves as entertainment, a distraction and an impetus to get the other team to rush its decision.

Just got to kind of watch with the competition. A lot of them are people you play in different states, and you should know, like, where they hit, where they point. Some, you know, it's just a matter of how you hide your bones and stuff. So you just ...

I wonder if there's a tell in your eyes, like when you play poker?

Some do have it, some can tell, you know, where they hide and stuff, and some can't, it just all depends how long you've been playing it and stuff. There's a lot of them that been playing it all their lives since they were babies and stuff, so.

Ms. Howe, who claims championship status in a number of states says it's all about careful observation, and the music.

It's everything, your body language. Plus you hear it, there's songs there, it's beautiful. That's what catches you too. And there's some songs that are, like the team over there that's singing, they're really go for it, and that makes you feel like, you know, hype up and, oh, it's just awesome.

To learn more about the Ute Mountain Casino Hotel's 30th anniversary and future celebrations, visit Thanks for watching this edition of the "Local News Network." I'm Wendy Graham Settle.


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